Thursday, January 14, 2016

Revolution on Wheels, Part Eight - Cape Ann Quarries

Granite, the most handsome, durable and challenging material that could be worked by human hands, compensated its masters with structures that would far outlive them. Granite has been the building material of many of the Wonders of the World. One of the wonders lay in accomplishing some of these edifices so far from the source of stone. 

A block of granite was hauled to the Rockport railroad station on Wednesday that required thirteen yoke of oxen to get it through the streets. Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, March 8, 1873.
A two-week walk from Bay View to Gloucester
Annisquam Historical Society photo
A Big Stone.--A block of granite eighteen feet in length and seven in width, to be worked about one foot, is now on the way from the Cape Ann Granite Company's quarry at Bay View. Fifteen yoke of oxen are engaged in pulling it. It is for the new Baptist Church and will probably reach here today. Cape Ann Advertiser, May 27, 1870 [It did not arrive until June 15, the team 'beefed up' by six more yoke of oxen. Part of the delay rose from concern that the wooden bridge at Riverdale Mills might not support the weight. The bridge received additional timbers.]

Bay State Quarry, Lanesville c. 1880s
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
Old teamsters seemed to have an affection for oxen and their plodding pace. Over rough roads they probably covered less than one mile in an hour.
Garrymander at Bay State Quarry
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
A garrymander carried its load suspended beneath the axle. A long lever helped raise the stone high enough to clear the ground. This mechanical concept required unusually large wheels.

Garrymander and team, Rockport Granite Company wharf
"Pictures from the Past: Lanesville, volume 1"
Since the garrymander didn't need additional machinery at either end of the delivery trip, it functioned well for small teams and at locations remote from the derricks.

Bay State Quarry ox team, horse-drawn cart in rear
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo
Traditionally oxen powered both the derricks and the transportation for Cape Ann quarries. In the second half of the nineteenth century oxen continued to work in the lower-capitalized segments of the granite industry while steam engines took over in the larger concerns. Horses replaced oxen in teaming the stone to wharves.
At present there is not a yoke of oxen at Lanesville or Folly Cove, and the "slings" formerly used at the blacksmiths' shops for shoeing oxen have been put aside, there being no use for them. Gloucester Daily Times, December 20, 1890.
Loading granite at Cheves' Quarry, High St Lanesville c. 1905
Cape Ann Museum, Alexander Cheves photographer
When Mr. Eli Morgan - now in his 87th year - was a boy there were only three horses in what is now Bay View and Lanesville. They were owned by David Lane, Joseph Lane, and John Langsford. Presumably there are at least one hundred horses now between Mount Locust and the Rockport Line, and not one pair of oxen, so that in these days we do not hear, "haw Buck, back Star, gee Lion." In days gone by when Stimson and Eames carried on the stone business in Lanesville, the only horse they used was the little trotter which took them from over the road to and from their houses in Rockport. Gloucester Daily Times, March 1, 1892.
The inclined railway of the Pigeon Hill Granite Company
Sandy Bay Historical Society photo1
Following the innovation of the Quincy Granite Railway, Cape Ann quarrymen began using tracked systems in the 1860s to get their blocks out of the hills to the shoreline. On the way down, the brakemen exerted skill and strength to control the car. A flagman gave warning to the public where the railway crossed highways.
Horses returning the railway car from the wharf to the quarry
Photo from Marshall Swan, Town on Sandy Bay
Horsecar in foreground at the Trumbull granite works c. 1870-74
Photo from Barbara Erkkila, Hammers on Stone
A gravitational system took quarried blocks to the Stoney Cove pier which still projects into the Annisquam River estuary alongside Route 128 at the entrance to Gloucester.

The locomotive Nella, named for the wife of Jonas H. French,
developer of the Cape Ann Granite Company
"Pictures from the Past: Lanesville, volume 1"
When the Cape Ann Granite Company acquired the former Bay State quarries of Lanesville, which had exported its stone along an ox trail down to Pigeon Cove Harbor, it upgraded the route in 1895 to a railway known today as "the tracks" from Leverett Street, crossing Curtis Street and Granite Street, to The Cove.

 Cape Ann Granite had been the first to introduce a steam locomotive locally. It brought the William French by barge in 1870 to do the heavy transport at its Bay View works. As soon as the railway proved itself, owner Colonel Jonas H. French and his benefactor General Benjamin Butler invited dignitaries to a gala tour of the quarries aboard the train bedecked with bunting.2 In 1879 the company brought in a grander locomotive Polyphemus 2, named for the Homeric one-eyed giant Cyclops.

Finishing and shipping yard
Rockport Granite Company, Bay View
Photo from the Vintage Rockport website collection of Robert Ambrogi.
The Rockport Granite Company eventually acquired the facilities of the French-Butler interests. Early in the twentieth century its steam-powered derricks on tracks enabled Rockport Granite to industrialize as a supplier of finished stone to national markets, from the wharves at Hodgkins Cove (Bay View), Folly Cove and Pigeon Cove.

Trucks played a role in transportation at the very end of the Cape Ann quarrying era. But trucks arrived as part of the revolution on wheels that eliminated a major part of the granite industry. The new vehicles preferred smooth asphalt roads rather than the paving blocks (or 'cobblestones') that had given better traction to horses. 

Additional sources
1. Photo courtesy of Paul St. Germain, who has compiled a wonderful collection of images and commentary in Cape Ann Granite, 2015.
2. Cape Ann Telegraph, September 21, 1870. 

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